Mick Fanning, two-time world champion and current world No.3, showed how you take it to the top at the Reef Hawaiian Pro today, entering the fray among the event’s elite seeds and posting the highest scores of the round of 64. The Reef Hawaiian Pro is the first leg of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and Fanning made it clear that he’s throwing his hat in the ring for the Triple Crown title. To do so, he’ll have to take out good mate Joel Parkinson, whose heat score of yesterday still stands as the benchmark here.
Fanning leads 15 Australians into the final day of competition that will feature the remaining 32 surfers of the event and includes Parkinson. The balance of the field consists of six Hawaii surfers, four Brazilians, two Californians and one surfer apiece from Florida, New Zealand, Tahiti, France, and the Canary Islands.
Fanning’s heat with Alex Smith (Hawaii), Raoni Monteiro (Brazil), and Pablo Paulino (Brazil) was clearly the hottest match of the round. His top scores of 9.37 and 8.17 (17.54 total) lit a fire under Smith and Monteiro who, to their credit, answered the call. Smith advanced with 15.37, while Monteiro was eliminated in third with 15.13 – a score that would have won every other heat in the round.
“As soon as I fell out of the (ASP world title) race I shifted all of my focus to the Triple Crown and this year I really just want to win an event here in a Hawaii,” said Fanning. I’ve made a couple of finals in each of the events, but never had a win. There’s always been somebody better than me in that last heat. I think that if I could come away with the Triple Crown it would be awesome.
“Watching Joel yesterday go absolutely nuts, coming back after being out for so long, kind of inspired me a fair bit.
“It’s good, I love coming back to Hawaii because you don’t have to hop and bounce and do all the other stuff. It’s true surfing. It’s great.”
Joel Parkinson, who owns the only perfect 10 of the competition, remained in stellar form today to comfortably advance with a score of 14.1. On the other side of the draw to Fanning, the only time the two will face off will be if they both make it to the final heat.
“Mick who?” Parkinson joked. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do – win a Triple Crown. I guess the last few years the (ASP World) title has been taking the lead, but this year with Kelly wrapping it up early it’s not really a worry so it’s going to be a good Triple Crown.
“It feels good because I don’t really care about the outcome of the heat. I’m so happy to be in the water and competing again after so long out. So I paddle out there and I kind of say to myself, ‘just be happy to be out there.’ It kind of seems to be working. I don’t want to lose, I never want to lose, I’m always there to win.”
Other highlights today included Yadin Nichol (Australia), who boosted the biggest, cleanest aerial maneuver – a flying reverse 360; Joel Centeio, the defending Reef Hawaiian Pro champion and hometown flag bearer; and Granger Larsen (Maui).
Based upon the surf outlook supplied by Surfline.com, official forecasters for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, organizers are leaning towards this Sunday, November 21, for the final day of action, but will continue to analyze the surf conditions each morning.